Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Report Server location and the error: The specified path is not a metabase path

One of the ‘known’ issues with using CRM 4.0 and ESRV0008 is that CRM does not realise that SQL 2008 Reporting Services hosts the ReportServer application outside of IIS. Hence, when you try and edit the ReportServer URL in CRM Deployment Manager, or install CRM, you may get the error "The specified path is not a metabase path". As I said, this is a known issue, and a workaround is described at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/957053 (issue no. 6 in the article).

The problem though is that this workaround doesn’t always, well, work. I tried this, with no success whatsoever. Eventually, I went back to some other issues CRM had had with identifying IIS metadata in the past with CRM 3.0 (e.g. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/916164 ). What I had to do was temporarily change the IIS bindings so that the default web-site (i.e. web-site with ID=1) was on port 80. As long as this is the case when you edit the Report Server URL, then everything works. Fortunately, all I was doing was editing an organisation in an existing deployment, and could arrange downtime to temporarily change web-site bindings; if you’re installing a new CRM deployment it may be harder to play with web-site bindings. For completeness, the steps to make this work were:

  1. In IIS Manager, create a new web-site with bindings that match those of the ReportServer URL, as per issue 6 in KB 957053 (link above)
  2. In IIS Manager, change the current web-site bindings so that the web-site with ID=1 is on port 80 with no host-headers (if necessary turn off your phone and don’t check email while people try and complain they can’t access their web-sites)
  3. In CRM Deployment Manager, disable the organisation, edit the organisation an put in the ReportServer URL you want and continue till the organisation has been updated successfully. Enable the organisation
  4. Back in IIS Manager, change the web-site bindings back to how they were, turn your phone back on, and find someone/something else to blame for the temporary outage

Why Microsoft code things assuming the default web-site is on port 80 is beyond me. Oh well.

During my investigations I found out a few more things:

  • McAfee anti-virus software hooks into some popular alternate ports (in this case 8081), and it’s not easy to diagnose conflicts when you put ReportServer and McAfee on the same port
  • Configuring multiple bindings for the ReportServer URL works fine
  • 'All' the above does is make sure that CRM populates the ReportServer with the correct folders, reports, data sources and permissions. It is possible to set all this up manually and get it to work, but it’s very tedious and you may need to change the Guids that identify the reports within either CRM or Report Server